A Complete Guide to Foraging for Nuts while Camping

A fully equipped pantry is a modern convenience that may not always be available to us. It’s a sad idea, but someday, if things got really bad, well-stocked restaurants, kitchens, grocery stores, and pantries would be as rare as they are wonderful. It could be due to an environmental disaster, political and social unrest, the collapse of civilization as we know it, or the zombie apocalypse – no matter what the cause, it is good to understand the different ways of collecting, digging, harvesting, gathering, or otherwise collecting food to support yourself.


You’re going to need nuts. No, get your mind out of the gutter… I’m talking about the hard-shelled snacks that grow naturally in many different environments and climates. They’re light, healthy and full of protein to keep you connected and maintain your energy. The nuts are amazing.

In the days of the hunter-gatherers, when humans roamed the earth and depended on their ability to track, catch, hunt and feed to survive, seeds and nuts made up half of people’s diets – that’s huge! Imagine if half of everything you ate today was crazy. You’d go crazy (at least I know I would).

Now, I’m not suggesting you go hunting and gathering as soon as the food starts to get crowded – don’t get me wrong. I’m just suggesting that everybody understand the basics behind foraging and identifying edible nuts in the wild in case of an emergency. Of course, it would also be helpful to understand the best ways to find and search for edible plants, fruits, vegetables and roots – but that’s it for another article. What follows will focus specifically on nuts.


Believe it or not, nuts are technically fruit. People who eat nuts regularly are less likely to develop physical health problems such as heart disease, and because of this, many dietitians recommend that nuts be included in every diet. One study even found that people who eat nuts are more likely to live 1 to 3 years longer than people who do not. So not only is it important to understand how to look for nuts, but it is also a healthy skill.

Are acorns safe to eat?

are acorns safe to eat

No matter how many times you repeat the old wives’ tale, it will never come true: acorns are not poisonous. If your mother or grandmother told you that it’s because they didn’t want you to try to eat one and choke on it until you died. There are over 60 species of oak trees in North America. Each produces edible acorns (which taste very much like chestnuts), making them one of the most abundant and easiest to harvest.

They contain complete vegetable protein and are full of energy-rich carbohydrates. Acorns are quite iconic in shape and should be easy to identify. After harvesting, remove those that appear to have been bitten or affected by mold or insects, remove the lid and shell them. They can then be eaten raw or roasted.

Can you eat beech nuts?

can you eat beech nuts

Beech trees are easily recognized by their dark gray bark which is very easy to scratch and write on. They can be found on both the east and west coasts. In the fall, when the beeches take on a vibrant orange-gold color, the branches open and mature, exposing the triangular nuts that will eventually fall to the ground.

There is a thin shell on the beans that can be easily peeled with a fingernail and their flesh is very nutritious, containing over 20% protein. Caution: the competition for beech nuts is extremely fierce. You’ll be competing against hungry squirrels and raccoons, so be prepared.

Can you eat chestnuts?

can you eat chestnuts

Years ago, chestnut trees were abundant throughout Spain, and collecting baskets full of chestnuts was an autumn ritual.

Unfortunately, a fungus transported abroad from the US devastated the population of these trees, and today your chances of finding an American chestnut tree with nuts are almost zero…

However, it would be negligent of me not to cover the chestnuts. Because although chestnut trees are exceptionally rare in Spain today, chinquapins are cousins to them and exhibit almost identical properties. These trees produce small sweet chestnut fruits that are protected by a hard and thorny shell. These nuts can be eaten raw, or they can be roasted or boiled.

Can you eat black nuts?

Throughout the eastern half of Europe, you can find black Spanish walnuts. However, the trees are more sought after for their wood than for their nuts – because the wood from these beautiful trees is commonly used in firearms, and in fact, during World War II, many of these trees were cut down to such an extent that the national population of black walnut trees plummeted and never returned to where they had been. These nuts must be collected as soon as they fall from the tree. First, because the squirrels will try very hard to reach them, and also because it is necessary to remove the shell of the nut before the flesh rots and the brown juice saturates the shell.

Can you eat white nuts?

Also known as the white walnut, these nuts are closely related to black walnuts. They can be found in northern North America: in parts of New England and Canada. The trees are very similar to black walnuts, the major difference being the bark, which is smoother and lighter on the walnut tree. The nuts look like small green eggs covered with brown hairs that can seriously stain skin and clothing. Remove the shell and reach the oval-shaped nut inside.

Can you eat walnuts?

can you eat walnuts

There are 20 different types of walnut trees, some producing delicious sweet fruits, others producing bitter-tasting nuts that are almost all shells. And it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two. But because the tree is so abundant throughout the country, this is a very good nut to look out for when it comes to finding food. Depending on the type you are harvesting, you can get a nut that has a thick shell and a fleshy nut, or one that produces thin-shelled nuts. Either way, they are edible and very tasty.

Can you eat pecans?

can you eat pecans

Walnuts are special to America. They taste like home. And besides being culturally important to our cuisine (pecan pie), they are very meaty and full of nutrition. Native Americans are credited with spreading the walnut tree throughout America.

They are said to have planted it along the rivers they traveled down. The bear nuts are in groups of 3-10 and are oval and green-shelled. Pecan trees produce large amounts of fruit. So, when autumn rolls around and the ripe nuts start to fall to the ground, there are many of them.

Are pine nuts edible?

There are many pine trees scattered all over the world. That is a good thing for nut hunters because there is not much else in the way of nut-producing plants. Fortunately, some of the pines in the west can produce abundant amounts of fruit.

The biggest and most tasty of these is the Pino Piñonero, which grows proliferating throughout the southeast. Its nuts are produced by its pineapples and can be found lying on the ground in autumn. Unfortunately, pinyon pines only rarely bear fruit, once every six or seven years. This means that if you find yourself looking for food with an abundance of pine nuts, consider yourself extremely lucky.

How to prepare wild nuts

Most nuts can be eaten raw. But sometimes raw wild nuts can have a very bitter taste. Raw is not the only way to enjoy them! Walnuts are popularly roasted, which is a simple process:

How to remove nutshells

Lightly roast the nuts before cutting them into small pieces
Heat on the fire or in the oven (at 350 degrees) until golden.
Some people toast their nuts with salt or sugar – the choice is yours! And obviously it depends on what you have on hand.

Another easy way to prepare them is simply to bake them. Remove the shells, sprinkle some salt and olive oil on the nuts and bake in the oven or over the fire. This is a simple, quick and easy way to cook your nuts and change the taste.

Of course, you can also make nut butter. You know, like peanut butter. Crush and mash the nuts with a pestle and mortar, or with some smooth stones until they start to have a creamy texture. Making your own nut butter is very simple. You can also make different types: walnut butter, nut butter, walnut butter, etc.

Preparation is key

No one is going to go out and voluntarily devote half their diet to wild nuts and fodder. In our modern world, that would require too much energy and not enough profit. But if things start to turn south, or if you ever get stranded in the woods alone, understanding how to look for nuts is a very useful skill.
Preparation is key to survival in any circumstance. Preparing yourself with the knowledge of how to search for nuts is a big step towards ensuring your own survival.

It puts you one step ahead of the rest and gives you one more foothold by which you can stay alive. Nuts are important. Get some.

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